Wichai shifts focus to cable TV start-up CTH
Nov 30, 2012 (Bangkok Post - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Veteran investor Wichai Thongtang may ease investment in other businesses over the next few years because his new venture, Cable Thai Holding Plc (CTH), is consuming massive capital.
"New investment will happen only when I have new financial partners for support," said Mr Wichai, whose businesses now span health care, real estate and cable TV.
CTH recently sprung a surprise by winning the broadcast rights for English Premier League (EPL) football for Thailand, Cambodia and Laos over the next three seasons.
The company competed against TrueVisions, GMM Grammy, RS and Channel 7, which joined with Malaysian iTTV operator Cubic Associates Group on its bid.
With the EPL broadcast rights in hand, CTH expects cable TV subscriptions to reach 7 million households nationwide over the next three years, double the current 3.5 million.
Mr Wichai has made headlines over the years by buying stakes in many leading hospitals. He is a major shareholder of the SET-listed Bangkok Dusit Medical Services Plc, holding 9.94%.
According to Mr Wichai, also chairman and major shareholder of CTH, the cable firm needs an investment of 7-8 billion baht over the next few years for fibre optics, network development and licence fees.
Mr Wichai holds a 25% stake of CTH, with the Vacharaphol family, the owners of Thai Rath newspaper, owning 25%. Local cable operators hold 30%, with the rest reserved for a new partner.
"The new partner should help deliver synergy and add value to our business," said Mr Wichai, who now acts as the chairman of six different companies, including the SET-listed developer Grande Asset Hotels & Property Plc.
Grande Asset has two hotels, The Westin on Sukhumvit Road and the Sheraton in Hua Hin, and a condominium project, Hyde Sukhumvit, worth 5 billion baht, and 75% sold.
No information is available on whether Mr Wichai owns shares in Grande Asset.
Chief executive Noppadol Mingchinda said the company plans to freeze investment in hotels because of the oversupply of hotel rooms in Bangkok.
"We will freeze development of the Crowne Plaza Sukhumvit Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 27," he said.
"But we will not change it to a condo, as the requirements are different," Mr Noppadol added.GRAND shares closed yesterday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 1.34 baht, up one satang, in trade worth 5.13 million baht.
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